Sunday, October 23, 2011

Arizona Fall League 2011

From October 10th thru October 13th, I went to Arizona with my Uncle Lanny and his friend, Fred, to catch some Arizona Fall League baseball just like we did last year. Now you may be asking, what is the Arizona Fall League? Here is a quick rundown. All 30 Major League baseball teams pick beetween 6-8 upcoming players from their organization to particpate in the Fall League. There are 6 Fall League teams in total in which these upcoming prospects play - the teams were set up a little different than in 2010. The teams include the Mesa Solar Sox(includes prospects from Cubs, Orioles, Pirates, Twins, and White Sox) , Phoenix Desert Dogs (A's, Blue Jays, Indians, Reds, Yankees), Peoria Javelinas(Brewers, Cardinals, Mariners, Mets, Padres), Surprise Saguaros (Braves, Marlins, Rays, Rangers, Royals), Scottsdale Scorpions (Angels, Giants, Nationals, Phillies, Red Sox) and Salt River Rafters (Astros, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Rockies, Tigers.) My Uncle Lanny and I left Sacramento early in the morning on Monday, October 10th. Recently, the airport went over a lot of renovations including a brand new Terminal B. At the center of terminal B is a sculpture of a red rabbit costing $800,000! It is 56 feet it length.
Worth $800,000? Looks like Spider-Bunny to me.
In addition to the pointless artwork, they also decided to add a "people-mover" at the airport. Unfortunately, the airport had more than just the artwork to complain about. It took such a long time to check in for the flight and get thru security that we almost missed our flight. Hopefully next year they have those kinks worked out. We arrived in Arizona and met up with Lanny's good friend, Fred. We were are all hungry for breakfast at that points so we ended up going to Bill Johnson's in Phoenix. You can see my review of the place here. After breakfast, it was on to our first game of the week in Phoenix. The Peoria Javelinas ended up winning a close game over the Phoenix Desert Dogs by the score of 7 to 6.
Lanny and I outside Phoenix Municipal Stadium
After the game, we decided to check into our hotel in Scottsdale. We stayed at a hotel called 3 Palms. I think the place was nicer than any of us expected. Lanny and I even had a mini kitchen in our room with fridge, stove, and microwave. To test out the fridge, Fred brought in some beers from his car. After a little time at the hotel, it was on to the night game in Scottsdale.

Bryce Harper (Nationals) of the Scottsdale Scorpions
The night game was between the Mesa Solar Sox and the Scottsdale Scorpions. On paper, the Scottsdale Scorpions have the best outfield out of all the Arizona Fall League teams. Their outfielders include Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Mike Trout of the Angels, both of which are highly touted prospects. Throw in Gary Brown of the Giants and that is quite the trifecta. Lanny and I were in mid-conversation at one point during the game when a foul ball hit by Brandon Short of Mesa came right in our direction. With less than a second to react to the screaming liner, I moved my head to the right and heard the ball whiz by. If it hit me, it would have been real bad. I turned around and looked at Lanny who was sitting behind me and his eyes were wide open. We know we both just missed getting nailed with the baseball. So did we change seats? No. Scottsdale ended up getting the win 4 to 3. On Tuesday the 11th, we went to JB's Restaurant for breakfast, home of the all you can eat breakfast bufffet. After breakfast, it was on to Mesa to see the same two teams from the night before play in a day game. I tried to get number 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Gerrit Cole of the Pittsburgh Pirates, to sign an autograph for me but I was unsuccessful. During the day games, we noticed that all 4 umpires would meet a guy around the home plate area.

We didn't know for sure what the umpires were doing until our final day in Arizona, but they were all trying out new uniforms and the guy in the white hat was checking the temperature of each uniform in between innings so they could find out what material worked best and was also the coolest. Mesa ended up winning the rematch with Scottsdale, 3 to 2. Before the night game, we went to have some pizza at NYPD Pizza. They still have the special on Tuesdays to buy one pizza and get the second half off so we did that and took the leftovers to the hotel. After pizza, it was time for the night game at the new Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Salt River Fields is the new Spring Training home for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. It is a really nice ballpark and definitely has the "new" feel. It wasn't much of a battle on the field that night though, as the Surprise Saguaros beat the Salt River Rafters, 11 to 4. Speaking of battles, someone was having some type of battle at the 3 Palms hotel around 1:45am on Wednesday morning. Lanny and I were in bed (different beds, of course) and heard loud banging. It sounded like someone really wanted to get in their room. The banging went on for a few minutes. The banging stopped. Then a shattering of glass was heard. No yelling or screaming was heard at all, but footsteps could be heard going back and forth upstairs. It took us a while to get back to sleep. In the morning, Lanny asked Fred if he heard it too and Fred said he did. Fred then decided to go upstairs and check it out. There was no police tape but there was blood and a window had been shattered. On Wednesday, it was down to our final two baseball games. The first stop was in Surprise. Ok, not the first stop. Before heading to Surprise, we ate a Cracker Barrel. I had never been to a Cracker Barrel before, but the food was pretty good there. After eating, it was on to Surprise to see the Phoenix Desert Dogs take on the Surprise Saguaros.

Dusty Coleman (A's) at bat for the Phoenix Desert Dogs
This turned out to be the only game that the three of us left early (in the 8th inning) as we had to go pick up Fred's wife at the Phoenix airport. The score didn't change after we left with the score Surprise beating Phoenix 5 to 3. Our final game would be in Scottsdale and this time Donna would be along for the trip. She was tired and started falling asleep at the game but Lanny made sure she stayed awake as the Salt River Rafters took on the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Nolan Arenado (Rockies) of the Salt River Rafters
Salt River ended up winning the game and Nolan Arenado played a big part in the win as he knocked in 5 runs. The final was 10 to 5. So that was 6 games in 3 days. I also collected autographs of 29 different baseball players during that span. We're already looking forward to the trip again next year and I think we may be staying a day or two extra next time as this trip went by way too fast! If you're a baseball fan like me then here is my list of 5 players you may not have of yet but I think you soon will.... - Nolan Arenado - Ok yeah I just mentioned him but this guy is a pure hitter. I got to see him play for the Modesto Nuts in 2011 as well. He was named to the USA Futures Team in Arizona at midseason. He knocked in 122 runs in 2011 for Modesto and posted a batting average of .298. In 14 games played in the Arizona Fall League so far, he has a .377 batting average and has knocked in a league high 21 runs. This could very well be the Colorado Rockies' third baseman of the future. - Anthony Gose - Anthony Gose of the Toronto Blue Jays' organization has the makings of a five tool player. He has great speed running around in center field, has a cannon of an arm, and also shows a little bit of pop at the plate. He makes playing defense lot very effortless. In 4 seasons in the minors, he has 44 outfield assists. - Terry Doyle - We saw Terry Doyle pitch 4 perfect innings for the Mesa Solar Sox on October 11th against Scottsdale. He has pretty much done that the whole Fall League. Doyle, of the Chicago White Sox organization, has pitched 16.2 innings this Fall and has only given up 4 hits. His ERA currently sits at 1.08. - Sean Gilmartin - While he doesn't have the stellar ERA like Doyle, Gilmartin of the Atlanta Braves' organization, has had a good fall. He has pitched 16 innings so far with 14 strikeouts. It is pretty impressive for a guy who only pitched 23.1 innings professionally prior to the Fall League. - Junior Lake - This guy looks like the second coming of Starlin Castro and he is with the Cubs too. Lake is currently on pace to break the Arizona Fall League record for stolen bases. In 16 games, Lake has 11 stolen bases in 11 chances. He also has a .328 batting average. There you have it...congrats if you read this whole blog. :-)